November 1991

Who Speaks For General Surgery?

Author Affiliations

Chicago, Ill

Arch Surg. 1991;126(11):1333-1334. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1991.01410350023002

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The general surgeon is becoming an endangered species. That is the unhappy conclusion voiced by the community of general surgeons and substantiated by studies that predict a shortage of general surgeons by the next decade. The general surgeon is pessimistic, frustrated, and rightly angered by the problems, real and perceived, that beset the specialty.

The list of grievances is long and includes inequities ranging from the regard for the specialty, to training inadequacies, to the seemingly ever decreasing role of the general surgeon in practice. To the lay public, the general surgeon is often considered a nonspecialist, the surgical equivalent of a general practitioner. The identification as "just a general surgeon" is appropriately galling. Further evidence of the decline of the specialty is that most residents, on completion of their chief residency, elect further training in subspecialties and leave the field of general surgery. Whether this unhappy trend is a

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